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Oklahoma Businesses Worry About Obamacare Future Under Trump; Car Sharing Comes To OSU

Dec 2, 2016

Seven weeks from now Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. One of his signature campaign promises involved repealing or changing the hallmark legislative achievement of his predecessor – the Affordable Care Act.

Overhauling or undoing such a complex healthcare law nationwide won’t be a simple task, according to The Journal Record’s editor-in-chief Ted Streuli.

“Under the Trump administration, it'll be easier to unwind that in Oklahoma than it will in some other states because we never set up our own state exchange,” Streuli said. “Small business owners we talked to are pretty worried that their workers could lose health insurance, and that they won't be able to replace it for them.”

Those small business owners have spent six years complying with the ACA, and that wait-and-see attitude has them anxious, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

Phil Wilson, a labor relations expert based in Tulsa, said popular parts of the law will probably stay, like coverage of pre-existing conditions and coverage for older dependents. The biggest worry is what a different health insurance plan would cost and whether policies can be introduced in a way that’s not disruptive to business.

Meanwhile, Wilson said front-line supervisors should be knowledgeable enough about a company’s benefits plan to have basic conversations with their employees, instead of outsourcing it all to a consultant or single administrator in the corporate structure.

“Not necessarily have to go through every minute detail, but (they could) certainly be able to talk about some of the big picture things that are happening,” said Wilson, president of the Labor Relations Institute. “They’re going to be much more likely to relate to the experience of their co-worker.”

A student walks past Zipcar vehicles parked at the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman Tuesday. Zipcar entered an agreement with Oklahoma State University in Stillwater to place two cars on campus.
Credit Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Car Cooperation

The car-sharing service Zipcar is coming to the campus of Oklahoma State University. It’s different than Uber or Lyft – this is actually a car rental membership program designed for urban residents who need to make a quick trip but can’t rely on public transportation (imagine trying to take something big and heavy from a hardware store on a subway or bus).

They've really started to develop a niche market at universities around the country,” Streuli said. “So OSU is now part of that plan. They will have spaces for two cars parked in Stillwater. It's not just for students and faculty. Anybody in the community can sign up and become a member and schedule time to use those cars.”

But the model hasn’t been successful everywhere. A competing company that put a sharing station in Oklahoma City’s Deep Deuce neighborhood never grew beyond a handful of towns, and Zipcar is the University of Oklahoma’s second foray into car sharing, according to The Journal Record’s Brian Brus:

Doug Myers, OU’s director of parking and transportation services, said Zipcar’s projections of consumer demand a year ago proved accurate. The campus still has four vehicles to share, he said, and a steady registration of about 200 drivers.

The feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive, Myers said. He’s planning another big membership registration promotion with the beginning of the spring semester.

The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.

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